This year, the theme for Zion, TCU’s annual cultural festival was ‘Ah!‘ an expression of exceeding joy taken from the gospel of Matthew 2:10. This event is a platform for the school to interact with the surrounding communities, associate churches, friends, alumni, and prospective students. On that day, we open our campus to the public and offer various means of entertainment that include the puppet show, food booths, crafts and art, coffee cafes, cultural parades, and a musical concert from a Christian band. As international students, our duty is to participate fully (help host and provide entertainment). ACTS-ES students who are part of the Zion festival committee work together with Japanese students and staff members in planning, fundraising and advertising for the event. To give you an insight into what actually goes on before and during Zion Festival day, we asked several students who played different roles in the festival to share their experiences.
Aika, a freshman and first-time participant.
“I enjoyed helping out with the Indonesian crafts and ACTS-ES booths. I also participated in the dance and fashion show. My most stressful moments were when I was preparing for the food booth. We were running out of time and we had to cook for more than 200 people. I basically lived inside the kitchen and was worried about getting the food ready on time. My favourite moments were practising the Indian dance and walking in the cultural parade! I learned about different cultures and their traditional clothes. I am so thankful to God for sending all these wonderful beautiful children of God in TCU and giving us a place to have fellowship and celebrate together. I hope many people will have more chances to visit Zion and experience what it is like to live as followers of Christ.
Joy is not is not a full-time student at TCU, she but is taking a class with the ACTS-ES juniors and seniors once a week this term. She took part in the festival and taught a Bollywood dance to her classmates.
“ I love that the cultural parade gives each student an opportunity to showcase their country’s cultural clothing and also a little swag to the style of walking to make it interesting. I feel it could also boost the confidence of the individual to embrace their culture as we are foreigners in this beautiful country we are more or less representative of our country so what better a platform than this to share our unique culture. It was really a highlight of my life here in TCU to grab the opportunity to teach dance and I hope to continue.
Some of the short-term students also took to the ramp and showcased their cultures through dance and culture walk. Masha Lanska from Ukraine chose to walk in an Indian Sari with Kudi who is from Northeast India.
“I really enjoyed wearing the sari! It felt like I became a part of Indian culture for a minute. My favourite part was watching Joy put the sari on me while explaining the beauty of the traditional dress. I am a Multicultural Program leader at Covenant College, which is a school I go to in the US. Every year the program holds a Culture Fest, and last year I got to be a part of it, and even participate in the cultural parade. However, the emotions I experienced at Covenant and TCU were very different from each other. Even though I have done it before, I was honoured to be a part of such a ceremony again, in Japan, with many other students from all over the world!”
Bianca a freshman from the Philippines also shared her role and first-time experience of Zion festival.
“In the Zion festival, I participated in the international dance and the parade walk. I also helped out with some of the food booths like the ACTS-ES booth, the cotton candy booth and tapioca booth. One of the stressful things was preparing for it and how busy it was. And on the actual day of the festival, running back and forth with the booth was kind of stressful but it was actually fun and I felt like I was doing something! something that was exciting! It was my first time and I had so much fun! I got to meet so many people from different churches and even some of my friends from school came. It was very tiring but it was fun!”
Leah, a sophomore, was part of the Zion Committee and she says preparing for the event helped her improve her communication skills.
“My role as part of the Zion committee was to make the festival pretty! (I was in charge of the decoration.) With the ACTS-ES, I had to make and sell parfaits at the booth. I think during the zion preparation period, I improved a lot on my communication skills. Zion is a huge event and requires a lot of hands-on and that requires clear communication lines. I’m glad that in the end we made it work and everything was done on time. I enjoyed the parade walk. I represented the modern tradition of my home state, Nagaland in North East India. But, what still remains as the highlight of the whole festival is the live-in. I believe it is the only time the TCU students come together as a family and share their talents through performances and cheer one another.”
Lastly, Tyler shared his highs and lows throughout the event.
“My role in Zion festival was treasurer. I was in charge of money and budget for the ACTS-ES food booth. I also was a part of the international dance. The most stressful moment of Zion festival was making sure we were going to be profitable for our budget and preparing for the festival itself (dance practice, getting people organized, etc.) The most exciting moments were dancing to Earth Wind and Fire’s “Let’s Groove”, watching the EAI’s “dance through the decades”, and listening to ナイトdeライト perform.”
To see some of the highlights of the event watch this youtube video below: